The Salt Lake Chamber hosted the annual Utah Economic Outlook and Public Policy Summit with the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute to release its 2021 legislative priorities. It was the first policy summit to present a framework for both short- and long-term goals of Utah’s business community for the coming legislative season.
“Our top priority in the midst of this pandemic-caused economic strain is to ensure that businesses survive – that they are able to keep their doors open, keep their customers safe, and keep their team members employed,” said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, addressing the need for short-term objectives. “They cannot afford the time or the expense of learning and adjusting to new regulatory structures and laws. That is why we are asking the Legislature for a moratorium on imposing new regulatory burdens through this difficult time.”
Longer-term priorities included promoting legislation to improve healthcare systems, build transportation infrastructure, close the housing gap, raising educational opportunities and outcomes, and protect the environment and natural resources to ensure Utah’s future quality of life.
Governor Spencer Cox and Members of Utah’s federal delegation shared their priorities and predictions for the coming year, including recovery from the coronavirus, a second round of paycheck protection payments, the importance of vaccinations, and continued rural development – building upon the lessons learned from remote working.
“Despite a historically challenging year, we have reason for hope and are poised for a strong rebound,” said Natalie Gochnour, Director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. “This pink collar recession, with many women dropping out of the workforce to raise and school their children, will be an obstacle we must overcome for the Utah economy to fully recover. I also expect yet another round of economic stimulus to occur that will increase spending for infrastructure and other targeted projects. This stimulus, coupled with pent up demand, will bode well for our short-term recovery.”
Governor Cox, who offered the keynote address, likened Utah to a beautiful building but one whose foundations can be shored up to support economic longevity. He outlined plans to carry the emphasis on education, rural development, and steady growth forward in his administration.
“While my team is developing a 100-day and 500-day plan for our economic future, I want you to know that Utah is not broken. In fact, we are doing quite well comparatively, but I believe we can make our state stronger and improve things that are already functioning fine,” the Governor said. “As we stay singularly focused on economic development, let us remember this is not an end but a means to an end, blessing the lives of people in our communities and providing opportunity for all.”
Governor Cox, legislators, and business leaders all agreed that working together will be paramount to solve the challenges remaining with the coronavirus. Each advocated for Utahns to be engaged and give constructive feedback where possible.
A complete copy of the Salt Lake Chamber’s 2021 Legislative Priorities guide can be found here.